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Strongwater Spirits and Botanicals launches line of ‘shrubs’

Strongwater Spirits and Botanicals has launched Colorado's first line of shrubs. Shrubs are sipping vinegars intended for use as a health tonic and ingredient in craft cocktails. The new shrub line adds to Strongwaters' line of botanical bitters and is the first company in Colorado to launch a line of sipping vinegars in an apple-cider vinegar base.

Strongwater, which was founded in 2015, already is distributed in Colorado, Oregon and Washington and is being used at a number of local bars and restaurants including The Kitchen, Z Cuisine, Gozo and more. According to Strongwater, the shrubs are used as a daily digestive tonic as well as in cocktails like classics like Manhattans, Old Fashioneds and Moscow Mules. They're also available at retail stores including Black Eye Coffee, Amendment XXI, Sugarpill and Artemisia & Rue. An 8.5-ounce shrub bottle retails for $25.

"We founded Strongwater after seeing the trend for small batch botanical cocktail mixers on the West Coast and wanted to put our own spin on it, in order to bring the trend to Denver and Colorado," explains Kelsey Riley a co-founder of Strongwater. Riley, an herbalist, founded Strongwater with Nick Andresen.

"Shrubs and bitters have a long history of accentuating instead of masking flavor: I watch mixologists using high-end booze and then add a ton of sugary mixers to drinks, which masks the essence of the spirit. Our products offer a clean and sugar-free botanical component instead, giving way to a refined flavor and a more natural craft cocktail," Riley says. Shrubs and bitters have roots as far back as the 1600s in England.

The new line of shrubs come in a number of flavors: ginger & pear, cherry & thyme, blueberry & mint, peach & rose, and persimmon & lavender.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

PaintCare launches statewide paint recycling program

Too many people have leftover paint after repainting their home or apartment. This stuff usually sits around until it can't be used anymore or ends up in the dump -- which is not good since paints can leach toxic materials into the ground. But last year Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation into law requiring paint recycling. Now, through the free paint recycling program, PaintCare, Coloradans are able to recycle the paint hiding behind the stairs, in the basement or in the garage -- for free!

PaintCare was set up by paint manufacturers as a way to mitigate paint waste. The organization says that more than half of the materials handled by household hazardous waste facilities is paint.

There are already nearly 50 paint drop-off locations in the Denver area, and the organization already has more than 100 locations throughout Colorado. Many of these are at hardware and paint stores

"We are thrilled to see the excitement and energy from Colorado retailers to become paint drop-off sites," says Paul Fresina, PaintCare's director of communications. "Before the program was implemented, many people didn't have any easy way to get rid of their unwanted paint, but now Coloradans have the option to simply drop off paint at a PaintCare retail partner near them for recycling."

The legislation signed by Hickenlooper doesn't require a fee for recycling. However, Coloradans are already paying to recycle paint when they purchase it. That's because the legislation imposed a small fee on the purchase of paint. For instance, a five-gallon bucket of paint carries a $1.60 fee to handle recycling.

Once the paint is collected PaintCare processes it into a number of things. Some is remixed into recycled-content paint, used as fuel or made into other products or. In some case, when paint is unrecyclable, PaintCare dries it out and disposes of it. Visit www.paintcare.org to learn more.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

New Belgium 'sours' on Denver with upcoming pilot brewery

Fort Collins-based New Belgium Brewing, Colorado's largest craft brewery, is launching a new, 10-barrel pilot brewery in RiNo's upcoming The Source Hotel. The pilot brewery will specialize in sour beers and barrel-aging beers. The hotel, which is set to open in early 2017, is being developed by Zeppelin Development.

"After 25 years in Fort Collins, we're really excited to get more deeply involved in Colorado's cultural and political capital," said Jenn Vervier, director of strategy and sustainability at New Belgium. "We've long considered creating a Denver location to bring the New Belgium experience to more of our Colorado fans and to the millions of travelers who visit Denver. . . . This small batch brewery will allow us to collaborate with The Woods' chef and mixologists to create innovative beers, drinks, and pairings you can't get anywhere else."

The new pilot system will be a 2,000-square-foot facility on The Source Hotel's ground floor. New Belgium will have 50 oak barrels onsite allowing the brewery to age beer at the hotel and expand its line of sour beers. The brewer also will sell beer brewed at the facility at Source Hotel establishments.

Currently New Belgium's cellar in Fort Collins -- the "foeder forest" -- has 64 French Oak big barrels known as foeders.

In addition to the sour brewing facility on the ground floor, New Belgium also will have The Woods, a rooftop lounge at the hotel. The Woods will feature New Belgium beers paired with small plates. It will also have sit-down dining and a beer garden. That's in addition to the rooftop pool and views of downtown and the mountains.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

CU Peru wins Posner Poverty Hack and $5K for healthcare technology along Amazon

Last week as part of the Biennial of the Americas the Posner Center for International Development hosted the Posner Poverty Hack, a three-day hackathon aimed at solving international development issues in developing nations. CU Peru won, partnering with Quick Left. and Chromedia to develop tools to help educate health care providers in Peru.

The hackathon, from July 15 to 17, challenged 11 hackathon teams to create solutions to challenges faced by three of the Posner Center's tenants. The tenants: CU Peru, Grassroots Global Development Foundation (GGDF) and International Development Enterprises (iDE), were competing for the $5,000 award -- along with additional prizes from Quick Left and Chromedia -- to help them develop and implement a technology-based solution to one of their core issues.

CU Peru wanted to use mobile technology to increase communication between health care providers and patients. GGDF wanted to find ways technology can aid in post-disaster recovery in Los Cabos, B.C.S., Mexico and iDE wanted to find ways to finance a solar water pump it designed. The center created 100 spots for organizations to participate on one of 15 hackathon teams. The competition was juried by representatives from Colorado's Office of Economic Development & International Trade (OEDIT), Galvanize, aWhere, iTriage, The Denver Post, the Northeast Denver Housing Center and CauseLabs.

"CauseLabs is excited to spark solutions to these specific poverty challenges by maximizing the hackathon model," said T.J. Cook, CEO of the Denver-based company that builds tools to impact people. "We've wanted to collaborate on an event like this for a long time." Quick Left and Chromedia will help CU Peru develop ways to facilitate telecommunication between health facilities and community health agents to connect the Upper Napo health system.

The hackathon was sponsored by the Biennial of the Americas, CauseLabs, iTriage, Peak Creative, the Global Accelerator Network, MillerCoors, Wedgies.com, KIND Snacks, Lyft, Denver B-Cycle, King Soopers, Justin's, 34 Degrees, Marley Coffee, Coyote Gold Margaritas, and Pekoe Sip House.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

First Descents benefitting from Old Wood Soul's furniture makers

Local furniture maker Old Wood Soul has teamed up with First Descents, a Denver-based organization that helps young adults fighting cancer experience outdoor adventure. Old Wood Soul's beneficial campaign, TenTables, will donate 10 percent of the sale of a series of tables made from 130-year-old Cypress planks from an old horse barn to First Descents. Through an earlier TenTables campaign they donated $5,000 to local and national charities.

The founders of Old Wood Soul, wife and husband, Lauren and Keith Whittier, launched TenTables in December 2014. For the campaign they created farm-style tables made of reclaimed snow fencing from the Western plains.

"Our first experience with the community that First Descents built was, well, overwhelming," says Lauren. "We had never seen such a passionate group of people come together for such a targeted cause." The organization has helped more than 3,000 individuals participate in outdoor activities like rock climbing and rafting to help them regain the confidence lost to cancer.

The new set of handcrafted tables in the TenTables series are made from reclaimed Cypress planks from an old horse barn and a steel railroad truss base. "The beauty of this style," says Keith, is that "it's equally as comfortable in an urban loft as it is in classic Colorado bungalow, ranch or rustic mountain home."

Old Wood Soul also partnered with Mile High Workshop, a nearby organization that helps individuals who have recovered from addiction, incarceration and homelessness, find work to help them transition from one stage of their lives to the next.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Garth Brooks crushes Pepsi Center sales record, thanks partly to Denver's Faction

When Garth Brooks announced his final tour, it was guaranteed that tickets would sell pretty well, and they did: His nine shows in Denver sold 140,000 tickets in under three hours. That's partly thanks to success of Faction's infrastructure-as-a-service system, which helped facilitate the online sales traffic for Altitude Tickets.

Denver-based Faction says the service was successful enough that now Altitude parent company Kroenke Sports & Entertainment will expand their use of the cloud-based services provided by Faction as well as ePlexity. The latter migrated Pepsi Center's ticket sales to Faction's platform. Previously Altitude tickets had purchased and managed their own equipment in a third-party data center. However the system required more capital expenditures to deal with usage spikes and new hardware.

"Faction and ePlexity have helped us to create a hosting environment which better meets our needs in terms of both performance and cost efficiencies," says Rick Schoenhals, VP of Information Technology at Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. "We've also gained the flexibility to respond to business challenges more quickly with effective solutions that can directly target our business needs."

The Faction and ePlexity services allow the Pepsi Center to raise or lower their usage of the services without changing the amount they spent on the services. Faction says it was able to reduce costs while increasing revenue for the venue compared to its previous ticketing system.

"With the broad customization available on Faction's Cloud we were able to provide Altitude Tickets greater control, functionality and on-demand capacity," says Luke Norris, Faction founder and CEO.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Need booze delivered? There's an app for that

A new app, Liquor Limo recently debuted in Denver. The app, for Android and iOS devices, allows users to either have their liquor, beer and wine selections ready for pickup or to schedule an order for delivery. For delivery orders over $50, there’s no delivery charge either.

The app is ideal for someone holding a party that doesn’t have time to go to the store to pick up the liquor beforehand. Liquor Limo partners with liquor stores that have more than three years of delivery service. The company includes members of the team that founded Baroness Wines in 2001, which became the largest independent wine, beer and spirits distribution company in Colorado. The company was sold to a division of Berkshire Hathaway in 2014.

The app-based delivery service has 15 retail partners in Colorado that can service customers in Avon, Boulder, Carbondale, Colorado Springs, Denver, Durango, Fort Collins, Frisco, Greeley, Montrose, Pueblo, Stapleton, Thornton and Vail. The company already is expanding to additional markets and states.

"Through the app, customers in Denver and across Colorado, can receive scheduled and professional liquor delivery, while still supporting their local neighborhood retailers," explains Kevin Byrne, Liquor Limo COO.

If users can’t find what they’re looking for at a store, the company offers a Replica Recommendation Engine based on what it calls "Copy Cat DNA Matches" -- which it says is testing done to find the best substitutes when a particular spirit or brew isn’t available. “Our proprietary Replica Recommendation Engine enables users to explore vast retailer inventories, and discover new beverages based on the chemical fingerprint of their current likes and dislikes,” Byrne explains. 

The recommendation engine has evaluated more than 15,000 beverages and spirits. It can either match for unavailable spirits and beverages or make recommendations for similar but less expensive alternatives.

The app requires users to have a valid photo ID showing that they are 21 years old or older. They can then search store inventories for similar tasting beverages, often at a fraction of the price.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Voting for Denver Startup Week panels closes on July 10

This year Denver Startup Week is reaching out Denver's entrepreneurial community and allowing it to vote on exactly what sessions to hold, but your chance to influence the sessions ends on July 10 when the organizers end voting.

Already organizers have solicited more than 15,600 votes on a broad range of session possibilities, ranging from "Get Reporters to Feature your Company -- Get FREE National Publicity Easily" to "Founder F#ck Ups" or "Not my Circus, Not my Monkeys: Successes & Strategies for Anxiety Tolerance in Entrepreneurship."

On July 6, the topic that's far and away is stealing the most votes (182) fittingly has a pirate theme: "'Aarrr' You Working As A Team? How Successful Product And Marketing Managers Work Together To Leverage Pirate Metrics." The one that's garnered the least votes is "How To Do Home Energy Reports At Scale," with just one vote. So if you think there's a topic that startup week needs to address, let them know -- now!

The organizers will reveal the seven to 10 keynote speakers and sessions that were selected by popular vote in August. This year Denver Startup Week begins Sept. 28 and ends Oct. 2.

Vote for sessions here.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

New media buying conference comes to Denver

Ads are ubiquitous. But with all the opportunities for gaining consumers' attention, this ever-more-crowded space continues to get more complicated. That's the focus of a new mini-conference in Denver, Programmatic NOW, that's being held at Industry Denver on July 23.

"This is significant because programmatic is the future of digital media buying and it affects or will affect how nearly all media is purchased," said Ryan Wilson of FiveFifty, the event's title sponsor. "Events of this level are usually held in cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, or other 'major' markets. This conference is important to the Denver community because it gives local people that aren't all in on programmatic yet an easy opportunity to join the discussion."

Programmatic media automates media buying and placement, targeting customers across a variety of platforms, but it's not as known as traditional media yet. However, it is growing. It's expected that spending in programmatic media could reach $15 billion in the U.S. in 2015. In 2016, it could reach $20 billion.

"No longer can marketing and advertising professionals ignore programmatic," said Erin Cole of Accordant Media, a New York City-based media firm. "If you're in the advertising and marketing space and not working with programmatic at a high level you will be at a disadvantage."

Forest Whaling of Altitude Digital Partners says that the $89 ticket price is much lower for media conferences out of Denver. The conference will feature local programmatic leaders in afternoon sessions designed to explain and show the promise of programmatic marketing. The conference is supported through a partnership of the Denver Ad Club, Business Marketing Association, and AdTech Meetup.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Rose Community Foundation announces Innovate for Good winners

Earlier in 2015, Rose Community Foundation announced its first Innovate for Good challenge, a competition to fund projects with grants aimed at making Denver better. On June 18 at the organization's 20th anniversary celebration, the foundation announced nine winners in the competition.

Applicants responded to the question: "What new and innovative idea would you bring to life to make the Greater Denver community a better place to live?" The response was strong with the competition receiving nearly 400 proposals. A team of 130 community members evaluated applications based on their innovation, creativity, feasibility and the entrants' ability to make a measurable difference within a year.

Sheila Bugdanowitz, president and CEO of Rose Community Foundation, introduced the winners. "We are delighted to announce the winners of our Innovate for Good project tonight at our 20th Anniversary celebration. Every person in the room will have a chance to learn about this innovative work."

The foundation gave out $250,000 in all, including an additional $20,000 to Workshop on Wheels, which won a live audience choice award at the gala. Workshop on Wheels was submitted by Be the Gift. The Workshop on Wheels won a grant to create a mobile workshop outfitted with tools and materials that will use volunteers to complete home repair projects for single-mom families.

The other awards were granted to:

  • Bright by Text, a text-messaging system that sends parents evidence-based tips to support young childhood development submitted by Bright by Three.
  • The Clean River Design Challenge from The Greenway Foundation, which challenges Metro State University of Denver design students to remove trash from the South Platte River.
  • The Arts Street Creative Youth Take Flight – La Alma Connection project to produce a master art plan that will help educate youth about urban design, creative placemaking and economic development to encourage pedestrian use of the light rail and 10th Avenue in the La Alma neighborhood.
  • The Fresh Food Connect app submitted by Groundwork Denver to allow home gardeners to donate extra produce for distribution at food banks and through affordable sale. The app will connect gardeners with youth who will be employed to pick up and deliver donated produce.
  • The Race, Policing and Community Justice Advocates program submitted by the Shorter Community AME Church to partner with other community stakeholders. The program will help high school students become peer presenters focusing on racial equality, community awareness based policing and justice advocacy.
  • Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, a project from the Denver Center for the Performing Arts to provide performances to high school students in school parking lots. The performances will be followed by actor-led workshops.
  • The Stompin' Ground Games from the Warm Cookies of the Revolution organization which fosters a year-long Olympics-style competition between Denver neighborhoods focusing on arts, culture and history.
  • Veterans in Food Deserts, a project by the Denver Botanic Gardens to help military veterans grow and sell fresh produce at farm stands in neighborhoods with limited access to healthy foods, and share knowledge about gardening and healthy nutrition.
Since Rose Community Foundation's inception in 1995, it has donated more than $277 million aimed at improving Denver.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

OrderUp is Uber for your burrito

There are times when you want to order in and don't want something from a restaurant that delivers -- or maybe Micky D's. (Hey, it happens, not judging.) That's where services like OrderUp Denver come in. It's like an Uber app for your food. The company recently re-branded from Mile High Menus to OrderUp, a national brand with an app that allows people to order everything from a Big Mac to a Jamba Juice for delivery.

Brothers Mike and Dan Rolland launched earlier versions of the food delivery service at Indiana University (B-Town Menus) and in Boulder as Hungry Buffs. In the Denver area, they now have agreements with about 150 restaurants in the Denver area. Regardless of order size for the majority of the restaurants in the program the delivery fee is $4.99. Some -- mostly those who offer delivery services themselves -- have lower rates.

The app features a delivery tracker so restaurants and customers can see where the food is in transit. It also lets people coordinate orders via text or email, so it's not just one person going around trying to figure out what everyone wants in the office at lunch or at a party.

By re-branding under the OrderUp umbrella, the company is able to establish more continuity and name recognition, helping to establish the business under a nationally recognized brand while remaining local. As such they're joining the ranks of ordering services like GrubHub, Foodler and others.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Laws Whiskey House introduces Secale, a Colorado-sourced rye whiskey

When Laws Whiskey House opened publicly last year, the company introduced a complex bottle called A.D. Laws Four Grain Bourbon using corn, wheat, rye and barley. Now it is introducing two more offerings in A.D. Laws Secale Straight Rye Whiskey Married Batch 1 and A.D. Laws Secale Straight Rye Whiskey Single Barrel Cask Strength, both of which are unique in using rye grown on a family farm in the San Luis Valley and malted in Colorado.

When Laws introduced the four-grain bourbon last year, it turned heads. Bucking trends of many startup distilleries, namesake Al Laws and head distiller Jake Norris, Stranahan's first distiller, worked under the name Project Gargoyle and waited  nearly three years to introduce a whiskey distilled and aged in Colorado, rather than use imported spirits or distilling other spirits like vodka or rum while the whiskey aged. Now the company is introducing a rye whiskey that it's already aged for three years.

The rye in the whiskey is harvested fresh, cleaned and malted by the Colorado Malting Company, within a week of harvest, according to Laws. Quickly thereafter, it's delivered to the distillery where it's cooked and open-air fermented to lock in the fresh flavor.

The married batch is 100 proof (or 50 percent alcohol -- many whiskeys are barreled much lower proofs like 80 proof) and sells for $78 a bottle. The single-barrel rye is poured from "the cream" -- the first half of the first 10 casks and -- is bottled at cask strength: an average of 139 proof. It's selling for $110 a bottle.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Denver expands employment opportunities for low-income youth

On Sat. June 13 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Denver Workforce Center will host an event aimed at helping low-income youth -- those between 16 and 19 -- get a job for the summer. The office, part of The Denver Office of Economic Development, has employment opportunities that pay $8.23 per hour for up to 160 hours (about $1,300 before taxes).

To qualify for a position, the teens must be eligible to work in the U.S. and meet at least one of the qualifying conditions. The conditions include qualifying for reduced or free lunches, living in public housing or Section 8 housing, meeting low-income guidelines or receiving assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

The program offers interested youth a week of career exploration, which includes life skills and job readiness training. That’s followed by job placement with a local business, nonprofit organization or government agency.

Youth can register for the event here. The registration is being held on the first floor of the Westside Workforce Center at 1200 Federal Blvd. in Denver. Those that complete the registration process will receive gift cards. Those under 18 must have a parent with them and registrants must have proof of qualification for the program as well as proof of address, birth certificate, social security card and Student Colorado ID Card or school ID card.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Skill Distillery IT bootcamp is first to accept VA funding

Denver's Skill Distillery, a 19-week Java-programming bootcamp, is the first in the U.S. to accept the GI Bill to fund veterans' enrollment in the program. Last week the company announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs gave veterans the ability to use their GI Bill education benefits at Batky-Howell's Skill Distillery -- it's a first for the agency.

"There's a massive developer shortage in the U.S., around 500,000 open positions," contends Cole Frock, director of education at Skill Distillery. "It puts companies into unique situations. They want their employees to have the most current training." To fill those positions requires a new kind of educational program, he says.

The Skill Distillery program also is part of the White House's recently launched TechHire initiative, which aims to help fill these positions. The program spans 20 cities and 300 companies or organizations across the U.S.

It's an ideal program for veterans transitioning back to civilian life and looking to train for a new profession. The jobs, according to Cole, start at about $65,000 and are some of the highest paying opportunities for those coming out of the military. "Defense contractors need veterans who can program. They need employees with top secret clearance, or the ability to get it."

While a lot of tech programs focus on Ruby on Rails and other more modern programming languages, Skill Distillery is teaching tried and true Java. "Java most sought after skill," Cole explains. Yet not many schools or bootcamps focus on it. "We're the only school that does Java in the state. There are only two in the country."

Skill Distillery launched its Java classes this year. The second class will start July 6. "It looks like it will be a full class," Cole says. Right now the company can train up to 15 people per class.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Law firm uses Apple Watch to engage with clients

Law firm Fennemore Craig has adopted the Apple Watch to help serve its personal injury clients in Denver. The law firm is using the watch in unique ways, including its digital touch and health monitoring features to meet both its clients' needs and its own needs.

"In the pilot program, a select number of Fennemore Craig clients are currently borrowing the Apple Watch, free of charge, as a part of the services they receive from the firm," explains Marc Lamber, of Lamber Goodnow, the Fennemore Craig affiliate using the watches in cases. He adds that the digital watches are being loaned to Fennemore's clients only during the course of their case.

"The Fennemore Craig team has harnessed many of the watch's unique functions . . . to communicate in new, more personal ways while also advancing their business' operations and functionality," Lamber says. The device, for instance is being used with clients whose injuries have limited their abilities in mobility or communication.

"The Apple Watch helps us communicate with clients quickly and in ways never before possible," said James Goodnow, another lawyer with Fennemore. "We've witnessed first-hand the importance of fast, seamless communication with clients. Simply put, the Apple Watch takes communication to a new level."

The lawyers also use other electronic devices to communicate and monitor their clients' health, Lamber explains. He says they've used Google Glass, FitBits, iPads, and other tech tools, and that they reuse the devices after a case is settled. "Specifically, the Apple Watch integration also helps monitor, report and improve clients' physical, mental and emotional well-being," he says.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

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